I had heard of the “Altmark”, the Hell Ship, well this must have been her baby brother. It was only a small coastal ship, but there were about 1,000 of us on board. I was in the forward part where we occupied two decks. The height between decks would be about 7ft, but this had been divided in half by a platform which went round the whole deck, thus giving 3½ ft headroom in each. When it came to sleeping, it was done sardine fashion, with the feet of the person opposite by the side of your head. True the hatches were off, and a wind chute up, but being practically on the Equator you can imagine it was very hot. We were able to scramble on deck, to be greeted by the sight of Jap sentries constantly watching from the Bridge. The food on the ship consisted of fish stew and rice as usual, but although the sea was very calm, many could not eat. Being blessed with a good appetite, I pushed it down and was none the worse for it.
We docked at Singapore on Thursday 17th September 1942 at about 6pm, having been three days at sea. We remained on board for the night, and then on the Friday we were taken to Changi Barracks, which was a huge P.O.W. Camp, in lorries. We were lucky here because the next party from Java, which docked on 25th September, had to march from the docks to the barracks, I think it is about 8 miles, and arrived at the barracks about 6am in the morning.
While at Changi we did no work, and did receive a little Red Cross supplies such as cocoa etc. which had probably been brought to Singapore by a large Japanese hospital ship which was in the harbour when we docked. There had been various rumours on the ship during our voyage. Some said we were bound for mines in north Sumatra, because there were a number of cages with canaries on board. Others had different ideas and even that we were to be repatriated. Of course our hopes of this were very high when we saw the hospital ship in dock.
One unpleasant feature of change Barracks was the Indian troops who had gone over to the Japs and were on guard at various points. Whenever anyone passed these points they had to salute them, and I hardly need say that we did not like it. On one occasion I saw an Indian make two of our chaps go on their knees and bow low to him.
On the whole I liked it at Changi and was sorry to leave. We heard rumours of the other camps in Malaya, which were supposed to be very nice places, but were really the terrible Thai railway camps, and now I see how lucky I was to miss them.
We eventually left Changi, in lorries.